Let’s heed the warnings
Our first president, Washington, warned us to avoid foreign entanglements. President Eisenhower is said to have told friends, “I have written a thousand letters to bereaved wives and mothers and don’t want to write any more.” He warned us to beware of the “military industrial complex.” Our military equipment — ships, planes, guns, missiles, drones, as well as petroleum and war contractors, etc. — are profitably provided by many businesses. Their jobs are appreciated by many employees, as well as our political representatives. War contractors hire as many employees as our military forces, and are paid several times as much, though they face fewer dangers. An example of the “military industrial complex” is the gun lobby. If military guns can be sold to civilians, more profits will be made by their manufacturers. Multiple-cartridge guns have no legitimate civilian use, but if the wrong individual has one he may kill 30 or 40 people instead of three or four. His mental balance should be considered before the massacre, rather than in court afterward in his defense.
We fear “terrorists,” but war is terrorism with a bigger budget. The devastation wrought by our military invasions in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan is mostly unheeded here. In the rest of the world it is not. Every day we stay in Afghanistan we make more enemies in the world. Our troops fighting the war are now its casualties as well. They are asked to go back again and again, but when they return home, their physical, psychological and economic needs are often neglected. We went to Afghanistan to “get even.” But we make more enemies every day. When innocent families are killed, don’t we expect some of the survivors to seek every opportunity to “get even” with us? Too many examples show that they can and will.
Our military power and budget are the greatest the world has ever known. We are told that it is “justified” for our “defense.” Are we so afraid of others in the world that we must add more and more weapons to our arsenal at outrageous costs? And are these weapons truly for our defense? At the same time, our infrastructure deteriorates. We need to use far more people and money for productive, rather than destructive, purposes. Our roads and bridges require much repair and improvement. Our schools are not up to standards of other developed nations. Higher education is too costly and unavailable to many qualified students. Climate change requires defenses for many parts of the country, as the mayor has proposed for New York City.
If we still live in a democracy, it is we voters who must act. Washington seems incapable or unwilling to act without our insistence. Otherwise the “1 percent” will continue to selfishly rule, considering primarily their own power, control and material gain.
MontpelierMORE IN LettersThe following remarks were made by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Full Story
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